U.S. Will Pay for Unvaccinated Federal Workers’ Coronavirus Tests
The U.S. government will cover the costs of regular coronavirus testing for unvaccinated federal workers, a component of the Biden administration’s new immunization requirements.
President Biden on Thursday announced new rules that amount to a two-tier system for the country’s four million federal employees. Those who do not get the coronavirus vaccine will have to socially distance themselves, wear face covers and face limits on official travel. Those who are vaccinated will not be subject to such requirements.
Unvaccinated workers will also need to be tested regularly for the virus. Each federal agency will come up with a plan to test its unvaccinated workforce, according to a Biden administration official who was not authorized to speak officially. Costs and testing procedures will depend on the number of unvaccinated people in each agency.
The federal decision to cover coronavirus testing for unvaccinated workers could set a benchmark for state governments and businesses struggling with the same problem.
New York and California put in place similar testing requirements for unvaccinated state employees this week, but neither have specified who will pay for the service. Some companies and universities have already announced that unvaccinated workers will have to pay for their own tests themselves.
Many states and cities still have free coronavirus testing sites they started earlier in the pandemic. But many Americans also get tested at doctor’s offices and drugstores, which typically charge patients and their insurance for the service.
Federal law requires insurers to fully cover coronavirus tests ordered by health care providers, which means the doctor cannot apply a deductible or co-payment to the service. Routine workplace testing, however, is exempt from this requirement and it is legal to bill patients for this service.
Some patients have faced surprise medical bills for coronavirus tests, which can range from a few dollars to over $ 1,000.
“A number of employers, especially larger ones, may simply offer on-site testing for unvaccinated workers,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “But they don’t have to. They can force employees to foot the bill.
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